ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 6 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 12, 2002


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for the AAC CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and workshops. We come together on the second Wednesday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the fourth Wednesday come to the Kept Writer in St Albans for acoustic Open Mike Night featuring music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      The Opera House at Enosburg Falls presents an afternoon of Holiday Music and Song featuring the Enosburg Town Band and the Community Chorus on Sunday. This annual family event celebrates traditional music in Franklin County's historic (and heated) theater. The program is part of the Community Treasures Series. The concert will include traditional and contemporary seasonal music.
      "We're doing a bunch of shorter numbers this year," said Community Chorus director Jay Sheperd. "One that's really beautiful but not very well known is the 'Crown of Roses' by Tchaikovsky." The concert will also include Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring by Bach, the carol Still Still Still from Austria, and a number of more modern works from Shepherd's Farewell by Berlioz and the Fanfare for Christmas Day by Martin Shaw to the spiritual Behold that Star.
      Unlike traditional carols with repeating choruses, the Austrian carol builds from stillness to sleep to dreams. It was sung not only at Christmas but also as a lullaby. The author is unknown.
      "We've got about 50 people singing this year, up by 10 from last year," Mr. Sheperd said. "Whole families are singing, husbands wives cousins and nephews." The chorus includes a group from Franklin and from MVU.
      The 35-piece Town Band will play Christmas medleys, traditional music including Sleigh Ride by LeRoy Anderson and, on the lighter side, a Christmas Rock. "We will do 'Igor's Holiday' featuring the trumpet section," said director Alisa Martin, "and feature the brass in 'Westminster Carol'." They will perform a Suite from the Messiah which ends with the Hallelujah Chorus.
      With 35 members, the Town Band is "pretty well balanced," said director Alisa Martin. "It's nice for this concert because we have two new members in the trombone section and two new clarinet members as well." Three of the four new members are area high school students
      This Town Band is the oldest in Vermont. The volunteer musicians range in age from 11 to over 70. They have never missed a season. Director Alisa Martin is a music teacher in Enosburg schools.
      Both the Town Band and the Community Chorus recruit new members any time. "People are always welcome to join," Mrs. Martin said.
      The Friends of the Opera House will host a post-concert reception to thank all Opera House friends and volunteers for their 2002 support. A community "thank you" is also due the volunteer efforts of the approximately 85 musicians and leaders in this concert.
      Admission is free but donations are gladly, indeed gleefully accepted. The Holiday Concert will begin at the Opera House on Sunday at 2 p.m. Call 802-933-6171 or click here for more info.


      The BFA-St. Albans Fine Arts Department and the All Arts Council of Franklin County present Handel's Messiah on Thursday, December 19, in St Mary's sanctuary in St. Albans.
      "Performing 'Messiah' in a large church setting gives this work a magnificent feeling," Mr. Messier said. St. Mary's Church provides a beautiful setting and wonderful acoustics.
      The BFA Chorus and St. Albans Community Singers include soloists Arlene Jarvis, and Claire Campbell of St. Albans, Wayne Hobbs, and Tom McNichols of Plattsburgh. Gianna Izzo Messier is concertmaster and BFA-St. Albans choral director Armand Messier is producer and director. Fifteen of the eighteen musicians in the orchestra has are professional players; there are six violins, two violas, two cellos, string bass, two oboes, 1 bassoon, harpsichord, two trumpets, and timpani.
      The Messiah was written in 23 days by the Baroque period German composer George Frideric Handel and was first performed about two hundred fifty years ago by a group of 24 professional singers. Although the subject of Messiah is of a religious nature, it is not considered a religious work because it was not written specifically for the church.
      George Frideric Handel is best known for his English oratorios, particularly the Messiah. An oratorio is very much like an opera with a sacred text set to voice.
      Between 1718 and 1751, Handel composed 17 oratorios in England in the romantic Italian style with English words and a strong emphasis on the English chorus. Written in 1741, the Messiah follows his Old Testament stories of Belshazzar, Solomon, Theodora, and Jephtha. These three-act dramatic works are performed in concert, without the staging or action of an opera. The Messiah is less dramatic and more meditative than his operas and other oratorios.
      The Messiah is extremely popular in the United States and Britain. It is commonly performed with large choruses and Orchestra. The Messiah was first performed in a large church setting in the early 1780s and the mania has continued through the years. A London concert in 1791 used over 1,000 performers; it is performed by (usually smaller) choral societies in most American towns. During a later performance at Westminster Abbey, two choruses were used to create a stereo effect. In the past 150 years it has often been adapted and used regularly in Christian services, especially during the Christmas and Easter seasons. It is the most widely performed oratorio in the world.
      "By combining students, community members, and professional musicians, St. Albans will see one of the finest and classiest concerts ever," Mr. Messier said.
      Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Children under 6 are free. Tickets are available through BFA music (527-6538), all BFA chorus members and the All Arts Council ticket centers: Better Planet Books, Toys, and Hobbies and the Kept Writer in St. Albans, Swanton Rexall, and Enosburg Pharmacy.


ST. ALBANS--The Kept Writer presents Burlington singer/songwriter Lyle King on Friday and Rebecca Padula joined by Rick Homan on Saturday Both shows are at 7 p.m. Mr. King won the Advance Music Acoustic Guitar Search and recently released his debut solo album, Left Standing. Folk singer Rebecca Padula is finishing work on her second CD, Time, Speed and Distance.

FRANKLIN County--A Craft Studio Tour and Sale this weekend offers locally hand made holiday gifts on Saturday and Sunday 9-5 or by appointment. The tour includes Elizabeth Boudreau, Victorian Touch; Barbara Colgrove, Colgrove Clayworks; Christine Fichman, The Silky Way; Meta Strick, Get Away With Art; Sara Nye Vester, Weeds and Things; Cindy Weed, Jewelwood of Vermont; maps will be available at all locations. Call 933-2545 for more info.


      The Children's Theatre Resource Webpage aims online resources and information for adult presenters and teachers. The pages were originally developed by recent graduates of Northwestern University's Department of Theater and are maintained by a current Northwestern senior. They are looking for contributed information.
      There is a state listing of children's theaters, information on internships, publishers of children's theatrical material, the Drama/Theater Continuum for young audiences, and links to ASSITEJ/USA, the International Association for Theater and Young People.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2002 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.